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Federal agency withholds $500K for Oregon water study

September 19, 2018

FILE - This May 7, 2013 file photo shows Klamath Falls, Ore. on the far side of Upper Klamath Lake. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is withholding $500,000 allocated for a water quality study of Oregon's Upper Klamath Lake, citing potential budget cuts.(Steve Silton/The Herald And News via AP, File)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is withholding $500,000 allocated for a water quality study of Oregon’s Upper Klamath Lake, citing potential budget cuts.

The bureau’s Klamath Basin Area Office Manager Jeff Nettleton told the Klamath Tribes that the funding will be reprogramed to other activities to avoid losing that money, the Herald and News reported .

In an email last month to the tribes, Nettleton said the bureau is expecting budget cuts between 13 percent and 20 percent next year. He said the office will continue to work with the tribes to “close out the current agreement and evaluate the possibilities for future funding of the key activities under the agreement, but that future is uncertain due to budget cuts and other issues.”

Negotiations about water allocation agreements cannot proceed until there is progress on improving water quality, Klamath Tribal Chairman Don Gentry said in a statement.

“In what can only be described as a giant step backwards, the federal government recently pulled funding for critical water quality research that could help us understand how to make the lake safer for people, fish, birds and other wildlife,” Gentry said.

The lack of funding and enforcement staffing is halting progress on reducing to the flow of damaging nutrients into the lake, Gentry said. The tribes have been working with the state Department of Agriculture, state Department of Environmental Quality, and local landowners to make reductions.

“The Tribes believe that the declining health of the lake and surrounding ecosystem is a community issue, one that can be solved with local collaboration to the benefit of all,” Gentry said.

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Information from: Herald and News, http://www.heraldandnews.com

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